CORE 390: Senior Seminar - Fall 2007 Beibei, China

21st Century China in an Interconnected World:  Ethical Issues

Course Description

As you will soon experience first-hand, China is emerging as one of the most dynamic and influential countries in the world.  Economic development in post-Mao China is unparalleled in peacetime human history.  As this country of 1.3 billion people seeks its rightful place as a world leader, it faces enormous issues as it allocates its resources, provides for its peoples, and relates to the world.  What China does and does not do influences the entire world.  How should the conflicting needs for development and environmental stewardship in China be addressed?  How should China deal with the demands of a health care system required to meet the needs of hundreds of millions of rural poor?  How should China and the world deal with global public health issues such as environmentally-related, emerging and pandemic diseases that arise in China?   How can we learn from their solutions?  What can we offer them?  What are the ethical issues that China faces? We will explore Western and Eastern theories of moral philosophy and the specific ethical issues arising from China's emergence in an interconnected world.


  1. The Elements of Moral Philosophy (Paperback) by James Rachels and Stuart Rachels.  Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 5 edition (April 24, 2006).  ISBN-10: 0073125474, ISBN-13: 978-0073125473. 

  2. Supplemental Reading on Moodle: These articles will deal with East Philosophy and Eastern Ethics, along with other more specific articles.  Please download these to a flash drive, so you don’t have to rely on web connections. 

  3. Reference:  Critical Issue in Contemporary China.   I will bring one copy that you will be able to use as a reference for your final paper/presentation.  We’ll pass it around.    You might want your own copy if you are interested in this field and are an Asian Studies minor.  It’s not too heavy.


The Guidelines for Senior Seminar in Exploring the Human Condition: Guidelines for a Joint Core Curriculum state that give the student:

Many  of these can be summarized in the first objective below.  The main objectives of this course are to:

  1. increase your critical thinking skills of students as you explore moral questions dealing with medical and public heath issues
  2. help students better articulate and substantiate, through discussion and writing, their own views about these moral issues.  

In order to analyze, synthesize and evaluate complex situation, students must first learn relevant facts and ideas, translate them in meaningful ways, interpret information by forming relationships among different ideas, and apply their understanding to new problems.  Any topics could be used to facilitate the acquisition of critical thinking skills, but you will apply our new skills to an understanding of biomedical and public health issues.  It is impossible to develop logical and morally defensible ideas without understanding the basic information of a field.   You need content to develop and defend your ideas.  


A Senior Seminar course offered in China must be different than the same Senior Seminar offered at CSB/SJU.  Obviously two major goals of your China experience are to immerse yourself and get to know Chinese culture and to develop relationships with Chinese people.  At the same time, it is important to fulfill the requirements of a senior seminar course.  You must be held accountable for both.  Hence your grade for Senior Seminar will reflect not only your efforts in Senior Seminar class, but your efforts in engaging in your Chinese experience.   

GROUP WORK - Learning Through Discussion (LTD)

Most of our class will involve small and large group discussions of assigned reading.  In LTD, you must first relate what the author stated, apply what you learned to other situations, and then evaluate the new ideas.  These steps involve memory, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  We will follow a specific format for LTD which will follow a specific thee-part plan.  The LTD plan was taken from the book, Learning Through Discussion, 3rd. edition, by Rabow et. al.(1994), which is out-of-print.


Please note:  Disrespectful and rude behavior on your part toward the Chinese people and other participants on the trip will not only lower your grade for Senior Seminar, but might also jeopardize your very participation in the trip!



One days of discussion of assigned readings, everyone is expected to bring a discussion outline to class.  In addition, the following characteristics will be observed to determine the extent of your participation:

High level: Have the characteristics of a medium level of participation and in addition:

Medium level

Low Level


This will include a  presentation and a 8-10 page paper focusing on a specific ethical issue facing China. 

Detailed Information on Final Paper/Presentation


1.  Meet expectation of students outlined by CSB/SJU and myself

2.  Participation in all group meetings, lectures, receptions and excursions is mandatory.



I reserve the right to change the course and syllabus during the semester to accommodate changes in the course that I deem necessary to improve it.

General Information

General Readings

 Web material that we may read and may be useful for some of your final papers/presentations.

Bioethics in China

International Public Health

Public Health China

 Last update on 10/15/2007